On July 18, the amazing little cruise ship Paul Gauguin sets sail from Papeete, Tahiti, to the Tuamotu Islands -- once known to sailing ship captains as the Dangerous Islands, and now one of the remotest destinations possible.
And I will be on board as one of the lecturers.
I have explored the Tuamotus before, and recommend it as one of life's adventures. On Fakarava (now a UNESCO-classified Nature Reserve where experienced divers can descend up to 130 feet to visit a world inhabited by gray sharks, schools of colorful fish, and untouched coral) there is an amazing church, originally founded in 1850. Inside, it is all mother-of-pearl and blue.
And then there is Rangiroa, the largest of the Tuamotus. Rangiroa (rung-ee-roh-ah) is one of the biggest atolls in the world, with a lagoon so vast that it could fit the entire island of Tahiti inside of it. While visitors coming directly from Bora Bora or Tahiti will probably find Rangi (as it’s known to its friends) to be a low-key, middle-of-nowhere sort of a place, this is the big city for folks coming from anywhere else in the archipelago. With paved roads, a few stores, a couple of resorts, plentiful internet and gourmet restaurants, there’s really everything here you need – and in the Tuamotus, that’s a really big deal!
And then there is iconic Moorea, with its amazing mountainscape. If you want to stay in the Tahitian Islands before or after your cruise, Moorea is strongly recommended.
The Paul Gauguin people have their own private island, Motu Mahana. You have to swim ashore from the tender, and then swim out to the floating bar for drink to accompany your BBQ on the beach, but what the hell, if you would rather stay on board the lovely little ship, there is amazing food and service there, too. And you have the lovely little ship almost to yourself ... except for the captain, who once served me my salad meal!
And Bora Bora. Who needs explaining about Bora Bora? One of the hugely iconic islands in the Pacific. Personally, I like the pareu dyeing trip. And I really rather like the village, where the shops that sell black pearls are more like world-class art galleries.
And then there is the ship itself.
As you can see, it is small. It is like sharing a luxury yacht with just 200-300 other guests.